U.S. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are locked in a tight race for the battleground state of Ohio, one of the 10 states that held voting contests Tuesday.
More than one-third of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination were up for grabs in the “Super Tuesday” nominating races, more than all the previous primaries and caucuses combined.
Romney won in Vermont and Virginia, as well as Massachusetts, where he once was governor. He was also projected to have won the Idaho caucus vote. Speaking in Boston, Massachusetts, Romney predicted that he would eventually win the nomination.
“Tonight we are doing some counting. We are counting up the delegates for the convention and it looks good. And we are counting down the days until November and that looks even better. We are going to take your vote – a huge vote tonight in Massachusetts – and take that victory all the way to the White House.”
Romney had won the last five contests leading up to Tuesday and is ahead in the delegate count. He hopes to use the Super Tuesday races to establish himself as the inevitable nominee. His main rival, social conservative Santorum, is attempting to regain the momentum that helped him win three states in one day in early February.
Santorum, a former U.S. senator, is the projected winner in North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. He celebrated at a rally in Ohio. Polls have closed in Ohio, but the race is too close to call.
“Tonight it’s clear, it’s clear, we’ve won races all over this country against the odds when they thought ‘Okay, he’s finally finished.’ We keep coming back. We are in this thing, we are in this thing not because I so badly want to be the most powerful man in this country. It’s because I want so badly to return the power to you in this country.”
Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich won Georgia, the southeastern state he represented in Congress for two decades. He spoke to cheering supporters in Atlanta.
“Let me be very clear. I believe that I am the one candidate who has the ability to debate Barack Obama decisively this fall.”
Tuesday’s contests will move Republicans closer to selecting their candidate to face President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the November election.
Representative Paul, who has yet to win a nominating contest, focused his recent campaign efforts on the three states holding caucus votes — Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota.
He rallied supporters Tuesday in North Dakota with his anti-war stance.
“Because there are a bunch of people up in Washington right now, and other candidates, (who say) that we can’t wait until we go into Syria, into Iran. That makes no sense, we can’t afford it, it won’t help it (the situation), and it won’t give us more defense.”
President Obama, whose approval ratings have been gradually improving, told a news conference at the White House that Republican presidential candidates have been resorting to “bluster” and “big talk” on the threat from Iran.
Three of the candidates promised Tuesday they will not hesitate to use America’s military might against Tehran. Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.